American Class Structure in an Age of Growing Inequality / Edition 7

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In this Eighth Edition of his acclaimed and thought-provoking text, author Dennis Gilbert explores historical and contemporary empirical studies of class inequality in America through the lens of nine key variables. Focusing on the socioeconomic core of the American class system, Gilbert describes a consistent pattern of growing inequality in the United States since the early 1970s. In this search for the answer to why class disparities continue to increase, Gilbert examines changes in the economy, family life, and politics, drawing on vivid first-person accounts to illustrate the human emotion wraped up in class issues.

New to This Edition

Updated data on income, wealth, earnings, occupation, poverty, class segregation in residential patterns, and politics are woven throughout the text

Enhanced learning aids include a revised glossary and annotated lists of suggested readings at the end of each chapter

New instructor and student resources include a password-protected Instructors Teaching Site and an open-access Student Study Site.

Intended Audience

The American Class Structure in an Age of Growing Inequality, Eighth Edition, is intended as a core text for Social Stratification, Social Class, or Social Inequality courses in departments of sociology.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412954143
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 3/4/2008
  • Edition description: Seventh Edition
  • Edition number: 7
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Dennis Gilbert is Professor of Sociology at Hamilton College. His scholarly interests revolve around class and power in the U.S. and Latin American. Gilbert’s other books are Mexico's Middle Class in the Neoliberal Era (University of Arizona Press, 2007), Sandinistas: the Party and the Revolution (Blackwell, 1988), and La Oligarquía Peruana: Historia de Tres familias (Horizonte, 1982). In 1990, he was research director in the successful congressional campaign of Bernie Sanders (Independent-VT) and later served as legislative assistant in Sanders' congressional office. In collaboration with the polling firm Zogby International, Gilbert and his Hamilton students have conducted a series of widely reported national surveys, most examining the views of high school students, on such topics as gun control, gay rights, abortion, Muslims in America, and patriotism.

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Table of Contents

About the Author ix

Preface xi

1 Social Class in America 1

Karl Marx 3

Max Weber 7

Three Issues and Ten Variables 10

What Are Social Classes? 11

An American Class Structure 13

Is the American Class Structure Changing? 15

Conclusion 18

Key Terms Defined in the Glossary 18

Suggested Readings 18

2 Position and Prestige 21

W. Lloyd Warner: Prestige Classes in Yankee City 22

Prestige Class as a Concept 25

How Many Classes? 25

Class Structure of the Metropolis 28

Prestige of Occupation 32

Occupations and Social Classes 35

People Like Us 35

Conclusion: Perception of Rank and Strata 38

Key Terms Defined in the Glossary 39

Suggested Readings 39

3 Social Class, Occupation, and Social Change 41

Middletown: 1890 and 1924 42

Middletown Revisited 43

Industrialization and the Transformation of the National Class Structure 44

The National Upper Class 45

The Industrial Working Class 47

The New Middle Class 49

National Occupational System 50

The Transformations of the American Occupational Structure 52

From Agricultural to Postindustrial Society 53

Women Workers in Postindustrial Society 56

Transformation of the Black Occupational Structure 58

Wages in the Age of Growing Inequality 60

Growing Inequality of Wages: Why? 63

Harrison and Bluestone: New Corporate Strategies 65

Frank and Cook: Winner Take All 67

Conclusion 68

Key Terms Defined in the Glossary 70

Suggested Readings 70

4 Wealth and Income 73

The Income Parade 74

Lessons From the Parade 78

The Distribution of Income 80

Sources of Income 83

Income Shares 83

Taxes and Transfers: The Government as Robin Hood? 84

How Many Poor? 86

Women and the Distribution of Household Income 87

The Distribution of Wealth 88

Trends in the Distribution of Wealth 90

Trends in the Distribution of income 92

Income Dynamics 94

Changing Federal Tax Rates 95

Conclusion 97

Key Terms Defined in the Glossary 98

Suggested Readings 98

5 Socialization, Association, Lifestyles, and Values 99

Bourdieu: The Varieties of Capital 100

Children's Conception of Social Class 101

Kohn: Class and Socialization 102

Lareau: Child Rearing Observed 105

School and Marriage 108

Marriage Styles 111

Blue-Collar Marriages and Middle-Class Models 114

Social Class and Domestic Violence 118

Informal Association Among Adults 120

Formal Associations 122

Separate Lives 123

Conclusion 126

Key Terms Defined in the Glossary 127

Suggested Readings 127

6 Social Mobility: The Societal Context 129

How Much Mobility? 130

Wealth Mobility 133

Social Mobility of Women 134

Circulation and Structural Mobility 134

Declining Social Mobility 137

Conclusion 138

Key Terms Defined in the Glossary 138

Suggested Readings 138

7 Family, Education, and Career 141

Blau and Duncan: Analyzing Mobility Models 143

Jencks on Equality 147

Who Goes to College? 148

The Stratification of Higher Education 150

Conclusion 153

Key Terms Defined in the Glossary 154

Suggested Readings 154

8 Elites, the Capitalist Class, and Political Power 155

Three Perspectives on Power 156

Mills: The National Power Elite 156

Mills, His Critics, and the Problem of Elite Cohesion 158

Power Elite or Ruling Class? 161

Who Rules? 161

The National Capitalist Class: Economic Basis 165

The National Capitalist Class: Social Basis 170

The National Capitalist Class: Participation in Government 174

Money and Politics 176

Business Lobbies 179

Policy-Planning Groups 181

Indirect Mechanisms of Capitalist-Class Influence 182

The Capitalist-Class Resurgence 183

Conclusion 185

Key Terms Defined in the Glossary 186

Suggested Readings 186

9 Class Consciousness and Class Conflict 189

Marx and the Origins of Class Consciousness 191

Richard Centers and Class Identification 193

Correlates of Class Identification 194

Married Women and Class Identification 195

Class Identification, Political Opinion, and Voting 196

Bott: Frames of Reference 196

Elections and the Democratic Class Struggle 198

Class, Party, and Support for Social Programs 201

Class and Political Participation 201

Trends in Class Partisanship 204

Class Conflict and the Labor Movement 204

The Postwar Armistice: Unions in the Age of Shared Prosperity 207

Labor in Decline 208

Conclusion 210

Key Terms Defined in the Glossary 212

Suggested Readings 212

10 The Poor, the Underclass, and Public Policy 215

The Beginnings of Welfare: Roosevelt 216

Rediscovery of Poverty: Kennedy and Johnson 217

The Official Definition of Poverty 219

How Many Poor? 221

Who Are the Poor? 222

Trends in Poverty 225

The Underclass and the Transitory Poor 226

Restructuring Welfare 228

The Mystery of Persistent Poverty 231

Conclusion 236

Key Terms Defined in the Glossary 238

Suggested Readings 239

11 The American Class Structure and Growing Inequality 241

How Many Classes Are There? 242

The Capitalist Class 244

The Upper-Middle Class 246

The Middle Class 246

The Working Class 247

The Working Poor 248

The Underclass 248

Growing Inequality 249

Why? 252

Hard Times in the Age of Growing Inequality 253

Glossary 255

Bibliography 267

Note on Statistical Sources 287

Credits 289

Index 291

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